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THIS IS THE PRETTIEST HOTEL I’VE EVER STAYED IN

[EUGENIE-LES-BAINS, FRANCE] —  I had the best intensions… Looking to break up my random drive across France, I decided to sneak in to the famed Les Prés d’Eugénie hotel for a taste of what made Michel Guérard world famous — one of the pioneers of Nouvelle Cuisine that changed French cooking forever. 🍽 Chef and his wife Christine built this magical spa hotel in the country as a destination for his 3 Michelin star restaurant. We’re talking 3 stars for 30 years! I’m a food icon idiot, I just like to eat. But I learned about Les Prés d’Eugénie when I was staying at Le Chateau de Riell, their sweet little sister hotel in French Catalonia. (Scroll down a little on my page and you

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EXPLORING THE ROLLING HILLS, CHATEAUX AND PREHISTORIC CAVES OF DORDOGNE

[DORDOGNE & PERIGORD, FRANCE] — It has been since high school I’ve wanted to see this exact spot. Madame Zemkuznekov’s High School French Class, to be exact. She was super hot, no doubt made hotter because she was probably the first non-nun (or non-former-nun) teacher we had. And in an all-boys school, at that. She had us all at “Bonjour” (and the sexy way she wore linen). Her French class was the only class in school that was absolutely pin-quiet. All 44 of us big-nosed and pimpled boys rapt with attention, hanging on every Imparfait thing she’d say, because she was… plus-perfect. Anyway, back to the video below. It started out as a picture in our French text book, a prominent chapter page, I think. I

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STAY IN A ROMANTIC HILLTOP CHATEAU IN FRENCH CATALONIA

[MOLTIG-LES-BAINS, FRANCE] — So, here I was last April sitting in Skoura, an oasis town in Morocco, and I had to make a choice. Fed up with my stupid job, I’d quit and left for a little sabbatical for a month in Portugal and Morocco. My plane to the States left the next day, but I wasn’t ready to go back. So I cancelled it. I flew back to Barcelona, walked up to the Hertz desk and asked “Can I rent a car for a long time? Like two months?” “Si!” So they hooked me up with a sweet little upgraded BMV and I headed towards the Pyrénées. I had no plans, no goals; just no big cities, only small towns. Places I’d never been. My compass

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A WINTER WEEKEND IN PRAGUE

[PRAGUE] — This is going to be a pretty easy post for you, more of a postcard travelogue. I think I am the last guy to visit Prague, but I slapped it on to a Christmas trip to Brussels just to see what it’s like and have some beer. Pretty city. Too many tourists for me. I feel sorry that it was so overrun. But it definitely is pretty. These are the best things I’ve found. Click to open the slideshow and follow along.   Last visited Christmas 2015

CHRISTMAS IN BRUSSELS

[BRUSSELS] — Trying to do a Mileage Run at the end of the year to top off the tanks, I found a cheap flight to Brussels, perfectly timed between Christmas and New Years, back by the end of the year. The sad terrorist attacks had just occurred and I wanted to show my support but not letting those acts change our world. Plus, my hunch was right that the airfares and upgrades would be cheap with a lot of cancellations. I left on Christmas Day, went to Brussels, a day trip to Antwerp at some of my Instagram followers on-the-ground suggestions, then shot over to Prague for a couple of days. After all these years going to Europe, I’d never gone to either country, so

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A QUICK DAY TRIP TO ANTWERP

[ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM] — So I was posting live pics of Brussels on my Instagram and someone who follows me shot back “You should go to Antwerp.” Hmmmm, never thought about going there. And this whole trip was a last-minute. “It’s a quick train ride and cooler, smaller and more artsy. Not boring like Brussels.”  Really? I’d never even communicated with her before, but her IG name @devils_food_made_in_heaven was intriguing enough, she’d been to amazing restaurants all over. “Yes, you should definitely go to Antwerp!” commented another person I’d never communicated with… a very stylish hotel owner in France (who just happened to be eating in San Sebastian, Spain just right then.) Wow! Two people I’d never spoken with/written to, now telling me to go to

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THIS MAY BE THE BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD (I’M NOT ALONE ON THIS..)

[JOSE IGNACIO, URUGUAY] — It’s 3pm, the day after Christmas. It’s 82 degrees and sunny, with a light breeze gently flapping the white canvas awnings, fanning the cool shade underneath. The place is packed, everyone’s knee-to-knee. Cool pitchers of Clerico — the local Uruguayan version of a white sangria — are flowing past above the heads of the crowd, headed toward an antsy, thirsty table. There’s a DJ tucked in the back, but affecting moods in the front; like the breeze, causing everyone to gently sway along with him in a cool, mellow vibe. The smell of woodsmoke wafts out onto the beach. The best smell there is. Large wood cutting boards burdened with a grilled whole smiling fish swim by, browned at the edges, flaky

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TAKE A LONG HIKE THROUGH ALTA BADIA IN THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES

[VAL BADIA, ITALY] — The Dolomites are aren’t just one range, but dozens. Kinda confusing, especially for me, to piece it all together. It’s all called “Dolomites” or “Alto Adige” and “Süd Tyrol” … and in a part of Italy that was once part of Austria. So the names are always in three languages. But no matter what you call it, go there. I’ve previously posted pics from the Brenta range. These are just from Val Badia (or also called Alta Badia!), a spectacular valley that is just a fraction of the Dolomites greatness. I can’t wait to go back and figure out the rest. I recommend basing out of the cute as a button San Cassiano village, a glamorous little ski village, but in the summer

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A LITTLE BIT OF BROOKLYN IN A MILANO HOTEL

[MILANO, ITALY] — There are so many great hotels I wanted to try in Milano. Scouring through Tablet Hotels, I found this totally groovy little boutique hotel called The Yard in the totally happening, canal-laden Navigli neighborhood — a once derelict area of shipping canals that were constructed as way back as the 1100s that has been recently been gentrified and updated to be a lively night time and retail area. (also have seen is spelled Naviglio) The area feels like Östermalm in Stockholm or Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, with a bunch of intersecting canals, lined with restaurants and bars and thousands of roving people. I had no idea this even existed in Milano. They Yard is a collector’s paradise, with an insane collection of

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A 17th CENTURY FARM IN THE HEART OF MILANO, NOW A HIP RESTAURANT

[MILANO, ITALY] — You’d never think there’d still be an old farmstead smack in the middle of Milano, but there is. Cascina Cuccagna is an old forgotten complex that a group of food lovers got together, hauled away the junk and turned the place into a cool food-centric hangout. After reading about it in Maisons Côté Sud, I made a special side trip just to check it out. It’s a restaurant, an event center, an educational urban garden, meeting place and even a 16 bed hip hostel, all in the delightfully crumbling ochre walls just down the street from Porto Romana. Un Posto a Milano — “A Place in Milan”– is the groovily elegant restaurant and cafe part of the complex and what I specifically came

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A STUNNING RIAD HIDDEN IN THE MEDINA IN MARRAKESH

[MARRAKESH, MOROCCO] — It was midnight on a full moon in Marrakesh. A late flight from Barcelona after transferring from Casablanca. The driver pulls over on a very busy, unremarkable street, next to a gas station, an LP gas depot and about the world’s most frenetic bus stop and taxi stand, drivers wailing and waving, engines gunning. Everyone looked to be in charge. Buses, trucks and loud scooters screamed by, drowning out the shouts of the cab stand. The van stopped in the middle of the street and the door swung open. A nondescript wood door lay before me; no sign, no grand entrance, just two guys in muted brown tunics. “This is it?” I asked. “It’s Marrakesh, there’s always a surprise behind the doors.

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STAY ON A CLASSIC VINEYARD IN URUGUAY’S WINE COUNTRY

[CARMELO, URUGUAY] — Along the cool banks of the muddy Rio de la Plata is the wine region of Carmelo, Uruguay’s top wine region. All the best Uruguayan vintners are here, including Finca Narbona. Restored to turn of the century newness, Narbona Wine Lodge is like a museum of the past, with antiques, buildings and charm that dates back over a century.  With only and handful of rooms nestled right up along the vines, you feel like you’re staying in a period movie. The rooms are huge. The service minimal. The quiet is deafening. What a great place to relax, eat and take in the cool air of the wine region. It’s a Tablet Hotels and Relais & Chateaux property, so you know it’s good. And

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A GAUCHO FESTIVAL IN URUGUAY

[PUEBLO GARZON, URUGUAY] –We were in the tiny quiet village of Pueblo Garzon, Uruguay. Once abandoned, but bought by the famous chef Francis Mallmann who added a world famous restaurant and small five room hotel.  We were here for a few days to eat and bask in the green wide expanse of the Uruguayan countryside. Little did we know we’d stumbled on a gaucho parade in Garzon. It was the First of March. We wanted to take horses up for a picnic in the nearby Uruguayan highlands. But the extremely nice people at the Hotel Garzon apologized, but said in clipped-English,”I’m sorry but normally we accommodate your request, but today all the horses in town are taken for the parade.”  “What parade?” “Today is our

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A REVISIT TO FRANCIS MALLMANN’S STUNNING GARZON HOTEL & RESTAURANT IN URUGUAY

[PUEBLO GAZON, URUGUAY] — Details. Details. Details. It’s all in the details. And famous Argentine chef Francis Mallmann’s hideout in the small, un-developed Pueblo Garzon is dripping with it. Imagine the perfect movie set or photo shoot where every single corner, nook and cranny exudes great thought and attention. Nothing is missed. Zoom in on any square meter and you have your shot. Not to mention the food. Oh boy, the food. Set about 40 minutes inland from the popular Bohemian Jetset town of Jose Ignacio the restaurant has been drawing carloads of gourmands to make the trek inland, past the expansive Uruguayan estancias, cows, gauchos and farmland to this treasured idyll. Long abandoned, he bought up most of the town years ago and built this

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You Should Eat Here in Buenos Aires

[BUENOS AIRES] — There are lots of amazing restaurants in Buenos Aires. Here are some of my new finds on my last trip in late February of 2014. We were just in and out on this trip, heading to Uruguay, but these are my favorites…the others were just okay. All of these are good. Add them to your list, but here’s how they look: SUCRE This was probably our favorite — we had many great meals at “let’s eat here” spur-of-the-moment local places, but Sucre was really special and better than the TripAdvisor reviews…typical. Extremely nice people. Great central location. Nothing more than burger on the sidewalk. We had fun. Go late.   CAFE TORTONI I’ve posted before and this is a revisit. Sure, Cafe Tortoni

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You Should Go Here in Santiago

[SANTIAGO, CHILE] — There are lots of great neighborhoods in Santiago — take some time to read about each one — I was just in and out for a night on each end of my trip to Chile, but these are some of my favorite places I stumbled onto. Santiago is so cool. Lots of barrios, each with their own personalities. And so clean. Everyone’s well-educated, with great style and gathering together to talk about what’s happening in the world. And Chile. And one thing I walked away with was the power that the internet has had on the world. Our world used to be dependent on manufacturing and industry, now all these great capitals are thriving with thousands of internet, app and web design firms popping

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You should eat here in Santiago

[SANTIAGO, CHILE] — I only spent two nights in Santiago, so didn’t have a chance to eat around much, but here are places that I liked and would recommend. In Bario Lastarria, which is where I’d just go an walk around, there are lots of cool places to duck into. In prime spot right on the corner is this nice little place with prime outdoor tables for great people watching, right on the corner of Paseo Barrio Lastarria…I think it might be called Gatopardo, but not sure.   You can’t miss it, by the awnings and cool building backdrop below.           Mercado Central — located just off the city center, Mercado Central is really outstanding. A huge lumbering Victorian iron structure with

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A BUSTLING NEIGHBORHOOD ON TOP OF IT ALL IN LISBON

  [LISBON] — Barrio Alto is it.  The perfect neighborhood to stay, to shop, to eat, to walk. Shop along Principe Real with all the cool local shops. Look over the city at one of the best parks. At night, all the pedestrian streets turn over to outdoor cafes, bars and excellent tapas joints. You should go here.                      

A HIP DESIGN DISTRICT ON THE SPRAWLING GROUNDS OF AN OLD LISBON FACTORY COMPLEX

[LISBON] — In a tucked away corner of Lisboa, in the no-man’s land between the core of Lisboa and Belem, is the bustling new design and arts district, the cornerstone of which is the LX Factory.  Set on movie-set looking ground of an old manufacturing district, the LX Factory is a great place to get away from the more tourist parts and hang out amid the design firms, production studios, restaurants and shops — all having a design-centered focus.  Very cool retail and restaurants, even a hotel, all tucked under the constant roar of the off/on ramps to the Big Bridge. It’s a destination place, so don’t do what I did and try to walk there from Barrio Alto on a 98 degree day!  The

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A REVISIT TO THE BOWERY HOTEL. STILL GOOD.

(New York) — It’s been a year or two since my last visit, but thought I’d try The Bowery Hotel again.  Still an awesome place to hang out and catch the scene.  You’re in it. All sorts of fun people watching, seeing some famous people…and wondering who everyone else is.  And enjoy when the paparazzi pop out between the plantings and get disappointed when it is just you. But also fun to check out the NYPost and see who was staying there at the same time and you didn’t even realize it. The rooms are just very well done, some big, some small. But even the small ones are little jewel boxes. And about the best water pressure in the city.  Check out the restaurant

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